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  • Jul 29, 2016
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Conditions
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Chronic pain is a life-changing health condition that can impact every aspect of daily life. As the time and attention demanded by unrelenting pain increases, there can be less and less time for attention to other details. This can have both direct and indirect affects on the appearance and can even contribute to a type of premature aging.

Reflections on appearance

Even if true beauty is more than skin deep, overall personal appearance can provide insight on the state of physical and emotional well-being. Time devoted to good nutrition, regular exercise and other basic self-care activities that support long-term health are often apparent in the outward appearance.

Chronic pain can disrupt or disable many of the basic health maintenance activities that contribute to a sense of wellness and vitality. As these factors tend to decrease slowly over the lifetime, anyone with less capacity for health-supporting self-care activities can take on an appearance generally associated with premature aging. Recognition of such a change in appearance can become a vicious cycle for those suffering from chronic pain: looking older can further diminish emotional well-being and further discourage health-promoting activities.

In addition to the way in which chronic pain reduces the time for routine self-care, this condition can also alter the appearance by reducing the capacity to move, smile and laugh as those without a chronic pain condition. As a result, people suffering from unremitting pain can simply appear more frail and infirmed in comparison to their peers at the same age.

A friend in the fight against chronic pain

Alliance Spine and Pain Centers understands the myriad ways in which chronic pain affects quality of life. Whether it is decreased mobility or premature aging that is most distressing for a patient, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers aims to alleviate any and all direct and indirect consequences of the condition in the lives of chronic pain patients.

Find out today how the team at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers can provide a customized chronic pain treatment plan. With 15 convenient locations throughout the Atlanta metro area and Augusta, pain relief is just around the corner.

  • Jun 30, 2016
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Conditions
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Living with inevitably involves explaining chronic pain, a task that at times can seem almost as difficult as bearing the disease in the first place. Have you found any metaphors that adequately express the nature of your condition? Have you been able to successfully convey the mental image of the beast that gnaws at your nerve endings?

The truth of chronic pain is that those without it are unable to imagine the intensity of even the baseline pain that characterizes a day in the life of most patients with long-term pain. Additional insights, however, into the underlying mechanisms of chronic pain can help to deepen understanding of those living with this life-changing condition.

Pain as a disease: when good nerve signaling goes bad

Pain is an experience, one that is sensed by the body and interpreted by the brain. As with most aspects of bodily function, over-stimulation of the pain sensory pathway leads to changes in the architecture of this biological information superhighway. While reinforcing well-used paths is a useful response in many parts of the body, the pathway to pain is not one anyone wants to have built-up and supported.

Over time, the brain’s response to unremitting painful input is to sense pain even when it is no longer there! Just as the eyes can continue to ‘see’ an image after the eyelids are closed, the brain continues to ‘see’ pain even after the source of the pain has been removed. Unfortunately, this unprovoked pain experience does not fade in seconds like the phantom images behind closed eyes. Such pain lingers and if not properly treated, chronic pain becomes a life-long unwelcome companion.

Recovery and cures: life after chronic pain

The best way to treat chronic pain is prevention. Proper treatment of painful conditions in the early stages can help prevent the development of chronic pain. After about six months of persistent pain, the pain sensory pathways have begun to be reshaped and the types of treatments required for pain relief shift as well. When a long-term pain condition has set in, it is important to consult with an expert in the types of treatment modalities that can provide relief from this particular form of pain condition.

The treatment team at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers understands chronic pain treatment. Across 15 locations in the Atlanta metro area, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers offers a range of personalized treatment options that help patients imagine life without pain. Find out today how Alliance Spine and Pain Centers can help put chronic pain in its place: the past.

  • May 31, 2016
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Conditions
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Tablet computers such as the iPad are the newest rave in technology. The small and thin devices are popular because of their portable and lightweight design. However, research done by the Harvard School of Public Health found that iPad users are prone to chronic shoulder and neck pain. Their studies found that this is because of poor posture as well as the design of the tablet.

Quite honestly, iPads are not all to blame for the newest cause of neck pain. Any sort of tablet can actually be the culprit of poor posture. As well, most tablets are not very ergonomic and their poor design makes it difficult to keep good posture while working on the device. In fact, people are generally stooped over staring down at their tablets. This posture in itself heavily relies on the neck muscles for weight support.

Additionally, iPads and other similar devices are not particularly designed for comfort. In fact, extensive use will oftentimes make your neck feel tight and cramped. Moreover, research shows that necks and head are in a more flexed position when using a tablet as opposed to using a PC or notebook. And with the head slumped forward over extended periods of time, the neck flexes with can result in neck pain.

To avoid built up strain on the neck, it is best to vary your posture every 15 minutes. In addition, for more preventative measures it is good to use a case that can also be used as a tablet stand. Having a case will decrease the need to grasp the device. As well, cases allow the device to be propped up at an angle so that your head is in a neutral position. In fact, using a case will drastically minimize neck strain.

Other preventative measures to avoid neck pain include:

Hold Your Phone Higher – Holding your phone at an angle will reduce the strain you put on your neck.

Back Support – Make sure you have good back support when using your device in your lap. Try using pillows to support your back.

Invest in a Quality Tablet Stand – Invest in a case that allows you to place your device on a flat surface. The best type is one with adjustable angles.

Take Breaks – Take a small break every 10 to 15 minutes. Also, avoid lengthy activities like playing a game or watching a movie. Keeping an uncomfortable position for long periods of time add to upper back pain and neck pain.

Uncommon Neck Pain

If you have neck pain that lasts longer than usual or if your pain is chronic, there may be underlying health issues besides neck and back strain from using an iPad. In fact, chronic pain is oftentimes a symptom that something is truly wrong. In truth, recurring or chronic pain should never be ignored. If you or a loved one has chronic neck pain, explore the medical options provided by the doctors at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. In fact, the Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are a pain management practice with 15 locations for your convenience. Moreover, you can contact the qualified staff at any time with questions or concerns.

  • May 20, 2016
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Pain Management
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Intended as a warning sign of physical injury, pain that lasts too long can become a disease of its own. Chronic pain is a condition in which pain has occurred for three months or longer and often long after the initial injury has healed. Understanding chronic pain is an important step toward finding proper treatment for this life-changing and potentially debilitating health condition.

The pain signaling process

The nervous system is comprised of the peripheral nervous system, the nerves that run throughout the body, and the central nervous system, the spinal cord and brain. A stimuli is anything that triggers transmissions through the nervous system, such as a hot stove, soft animal or sharp needle. Sensations such as pain are normally perceived after a stimuli in the periphery triggers a transmission that is relayed through the spine to the brain where it is interpreted as heat, cold, pain, etc.

Reflexes, which use similar nerve transmission pathways, are often interpreted at the level of the spinal cord. The shorter distance between the site of a stimuli and the location of interpretation allows quicker responses to potentially dangerous situations.

Chronic pain: pathological pain signaling

Long-term pain transmissions can lead to alterations of the pain signaling process. The brain becomes so accustomed to recognizing the presence of a painful stimuli from a particular location that the brain’s neural pathways are re-shaped to facilitate transmission of this signal. Eventually, the pain signaling process related to a particular body site is so well established that it no longer requires a stimuli: the brain senses pain even after the stimuli has been removed. In addition, the reflexes and other sensations that utilize the same signaling pathways can also be altered. This concept of re-wired neural pathways is essential to the understanding of appropriate treatments for pain that has become chronic.

Pain management

Many pain-relieving medications are effective because they reduce the extent to which a stimuli can trigger a peripheral nerve. This usually means alleviating swelling and inflammation at the site of the injury. When pain has become chronic, however, the altered pain processing requires treatment that targets the brain as the site of pain relief.

Until recently, few treatments were available to appropriately manage unremitting pain. Opioid medications were once a mainstay for the treatment of pain that has become chronic. While these drugs are essential for short-term and strong pain management, they can carry unwanted side effects and are not the most appropriate option for long-term pain management. New classes of drugs, as well as targeted drug delivery techniques, provide more options for delivering long-term pain treatments right where they are needed and with fewer side effects.

The special care and treatment required for these unique pain conditions makes choosing the right health care provider essential for managing pain that has become chronic. Alliance Spine and Pain Centers is proud to provide a variety of long-term pain management options at its 15 locations around the Atlanta metro area. Trust Alliance Spine and Pain Centers to provide lasting relief from long lasting pain conditions.

  • Mar 22, 2016
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Conditions
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While ‘mind over matter’ can help in some situations, central and post-stroke pain is an important exception. With a better understanding of the pain signaling process, it becomes clear why many stroke victims require pain management.

Inside the pain signaling process

Most painful experiences are what is known as local pain. This involves a system of connections from the site of bodily injury through the spinal cord to the region of the brain ‘mapped’ to that body site. When chronic or abnormal, local pain may involve neuropathy, abnormal sensations in nerves, as well as spasticity, abnormally stiff or rigid muscles.

Damage that occurs within the brain or spinal cord can reverse the direction and nature of pain perception. It can cause a body site to spontaneously feel pain because the area of the brain mapped to that location has been injured and misfires. Also, damage to the thalamus or parietal lobes, the areas where sensations of heat, cold and touch are processed; can cause all stimuli to become painful. This can be an important component of what is referred to as central post-stroke pain (CPSP) syndrome.

Characteristics of post-stroke pain

Up to one-half of people who suffer strokes will experience post-stroke pain. Of these, about one in ten people will have features of CPSP syndrome. Patients who have hemorrhagic strokes are at greatest risk of central pain symptoms.

The frequency and intensity of post-stroke pain can vary from intermittent abnormal sensations to constant pain. Abnormal sensations may include a feeling of burning, tingling or ‘pins-and-needles’ that occur spontaneously or as a response to normal stimuli. Another abnormal sensation that can accompany post-stroke pain is hyperalgesia, an abnormally heightened perception of pain. This can cause previously painless stimuli to cause pain. Emotional stress, cold and movement can worsen the symptoms of post-stroke pain.

The impact of post-stroke pain

Pain from any source can significantly impact the quality of life. Post-stroke pain may appear immediately following a stroke but often occurs weeks, months or years later. Whereas physical and occupational therapy often comprise an important part of stroke recovery, post-stroke pain can inhibit movement and rehabilitation. Untreated pain slows recovery and can lead to the weakening of the muscles in affected areas. Pain, along with decreased recovery capacity, are important risks for emotional distress and depression.

Treatment options for post-stroke pain

The first step toward improvement from post-stroke pain is an in-depth understanding of the nature of the problem. At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, a thorough assessment to elucidate the central from the peripheral pain symptoms allows these pain management professionals to provide customized and targeted pain treatment. Individualized pain management plans may include pharmacological as well as interventional treatments that are tailored over time. With 15 locations in neighborhoods throughout Georgia and the Atlanta metro area, the specialists at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are available to help on the road to recovery from post-stroke pain. We have locations in Augusta, Austell, Canton, Carrollton, College Park, Conyers, Covington, Dallas, Dawsonville, Decatur, Douglasville, Lawrenceville, Lithonia, Piedmont, and Roswell, Georgia. Give us a call today at (770) 929-9033.

  • Feb 17, 2016
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Arthritis
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Living with arthritis can bring on new daily challenges. In fact, coping with the discomfort and pain can be very overwhelming. Chronic pain and long-lasting fatigue causes physical limitations and can interrupt living a “normal life.” In effect, daily activities and regular tasks are thwarted. Arthritis pain takes its toll and starts controlling your life. But instead, there are preventative measures that can help improve your arthritis pain. You can reduce the pain and start living a normal life.

Weight Matters

When you lose weight it takes pressure off your hips and knees. For instance, when you walk forward the pressure or force on your knees is two to three times your body weight. So if you weigh 145 pounds, the pressure on your knees and hips would be from 290 to 435 pounds. Just an extra 15 pound can make a big difference; 15 pounds would be 30-45 extra pounds of pressure on your joints. And with arthritis, that is a lot of pressure that can cause additional discomfort and pain. In truth, the more extra weight you have, the more pressure you put on your joints which will increase the pain and deteriorate the joints faster.

Good Posture

If you want to minimize the stress on your spine and joints, it is important to have good posture. When standing, keep your feet 12 inches apart. As well, the outside of your feet should form two parallel lines. Make sure to evenly distribute your weight between both feet. As well, keep the shoulders drawn down and back so that your chest is broadened and lifted. You chin should also be parallel with the ground. For imagery that helps with good posture, envision a cord affixed to the top of your head that gently lifts you up.

Wear Functional Footwear

If you have arthritis, you may want to reconsider wearing your heels. Actually, many specialists believe that wearing high heels could lead to osteoarthritis. In fact, many studies done by numerous organizations found that at least 24 percent of women who wear high heels are more likely to develop arthritis – Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists, the Musculoskeletal Research Center (US National Library of Medicine) and many other researchers.

Women who often wear high heels of at least two inches high (also thick heels) increase twisting force at the knee, injure the joint adjoining the back of the kneecap and can eventually later develop osteoarthritis.

Moreover, proper footwear during exercise is also important. Supportive shoes like athletic shoes will decrease the stress you put on the joints while exercising. It is also a good idea to replace your tennis shoes once a year, exercising with worn out shoes can overstress the joints.

When Chronic Pain Persists

If chronic pain increases or persists for an extended amount of time, it is best to see a specialist. There could be underlying problems or ways a physician can help with reducing or eliminating the pain. At Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, we make every effort to offer you relief without surgery methods.

And whether you have osteoarthritis or arthritis, the physicians at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers offers solutions to fit individual needs with the use of comprehensive pain management. Our professional staff looks forward to helping you with a comprehensive pain management plan so you can have an enjoyable and pain-free and life. For convenience, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers has 15 locations around the Atlanta metro area.

  • Jan 29, 2016
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Conditions
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Does the weather really affect joint pain? And if so, can one’s joints really predict the weather. These questions have baffled scientists for many years. So much so that numerous studies have been made in order to determines peoples’ vulnerability to changes in the weather.

It is quite common for people to blame increased pain on the weather, and for good reason. In fact, many people claim that their joints hurt more before it starts raining. Some of the biggest complaints are increased neck and low back pain when the weather gets damp and cold. As well, many say that cold and damp weather worsens their symptoms of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.

Why the Weather May Affect the Joints

Although there is no evidence or agreement among scientists that the weather can cause joint pain, there are credible theories. One of the most leading theories suggests that pain may be due to air pressure. Granting, many say that their pain worsens with cold, damp and rainy weather. But according to considerable research, it is the barometric pressure that affects people the most.

Barometric pressure is the weight of the air around us. High barometric pressure pushes against the body from the outside which keeps tissues from expanding. Quite often the barometric pressure drops prior to bad weather. This low barometric pressure pushes less against the body, which allows tissues to expand. The expansion of tissues is what puts pressure on the joints. The same theory applies to high altitudes. Less barometric pressure may also affect the body’s joints. For instance, feet often swell during a flight but they do not swell when seated at a desk for the same amount of time at sea level.

However, moving to a warmer climate may not be the answer. Most likely, your pain will travel with you. It is believed that pain in the joints is caused by the change in barometric pressure, not necessarily the temperature. Even the slightest change can affect the joints. Even the slightest change on pressure can affect the joints.

Comprehensive Pain Management

Being in constant pain is no way to live. In truth, pain puts a great toll on your disposition and well-being. However, pain relief is possible. Alliance Spine and Pain Centers offers a solution to individual needs with comprehensive pain management. Whether you have arthritis or osteoarthritis, the physicians at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers strive to give you relief without surgery methods. They anticipate working with you on a comprehensive pain management plan so you can live a pain-free and gratifying life. In addition, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers offers 15 convenient locations around the Atlanta metro area.

  • Dec 22, 2018
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Conditions
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If you have ever had a pinched nerve, then you know it can be very painful. Although a pinched nerve can be slight or severe, the condition may cause long-lasting problems. However, sometimes the issues may just be temporary. But in order to prevent permanent damage, it is imperative that you get an early diagnosis and the necessary treatment.

Alliance Spine and Pain Centers services the Atlanta, Georgia area and can assist you with a diagnosis and any treatment if it is needed. They have 15 locations to help provide convenience and professional facilities to suit the needs of their clients. If your body is sending warning signals such as pain, do not ignore the signals and schedule an appointment for diagnosis as soon as possible.

Definition

A pinched nerve strikes when undue pressure is applied to a nerve by surrounding tissues like muscles, tendons, bones or cartilage. The pressure interferes with the nerve’s function and can cause pain, numbness, tingling or weakness. In addition, a nerve that is pinched can happen in several areas of your body. For instance, a pinched nerve in the wrist may cause pain and numbness in your hand and fingers such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Or, a herniated disk in the lower spine may place pressure on a nerve root that can cause searing pain down the back of your leg.

Causes

Oftentimes, a pinched nerve is caused by repetitive motion. Retaining your body in one position for extended periods can also cause problems. For example, keeping your knees or elbows bent while you sleep can put too much pressure on the nerves. Other causes include:
• Injuries
• Obesity
• Bad posture
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Certain hobbies or sporting activities

Nerves are more susceptible in areas of the body where they have little soft tissue for protection and they have to go through narrow spaces. Oftentimes nerve compression occurs when the nerve is pinched or pressed between tissues like:
• Bones
• Tendons
• Ligaments

Symptoms

Symptoms of a pinched nerve include:
• Weakness in muscles
• Burning or sharp pain
• Symptoms may worsen at night
• Aching pain that radiates outward
• Decreased or loss of sensation (numbness)
• Hands or feet feel like they are often “asleep”
• Frequent tingling and “pins and needles” sensations

Resolution and Treatment

The majority of pinched nerves resolve themselves within a few days or a week if rest and non-surgical treatments are followed. In fact, rest is the most recommended treatment for a pinched nerve. However, surgery is sometimes needed in order to remove pressure from the nerve and to get rid of intense or consistent pain. But there are other treatments that may be successful such as physical therapy and certain medications.

On the other hand, if you have chronic or continual pain, the symptoms should not be ignored. Intense pain is your body’s way of saying that something is wrong. When your body has warning signals like pain then it is best to seek medical alternatives offered by the physicians at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers. They have 15 locations throughout the metro Atlanta area for your convenience.

  • Nov 30, 2018
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Conditions
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The lower back, or lumbar spine, is the area of the back between the bottom of the rib cage and the top of the hips. Pain in this region, sometimes also referred to as lumbar or low back pain develops at some point in life for most people. When properly treated, the pain can be alleviated and the symptoms reversed. On-going low back pain, however, can become a chronic and even debilitating condition if it is left unchecked.

Understanding low back pain
While the start of low back pain can often be attributed to a particular moment of injury, twisting or improper lifting; it can also develop over time or even have no apparent cause. People who sit a lot or carry excess abdominal weight can become particularly prone to pain in the lumbar spine. In some cases, a problem with the spine present at birth can lead to lower back pain.

Whatever the reason, the sensation of pain in the lumbar spine depends on alterations of the spinal alignment causing pressure or impingement on nerves. If left untreated, low back pain can include permanent damage to the reception and interpretation of pain signals from these effected nerves.

Symptoms associated with low back pain
The experience of lumbar pain can vary substantially from person to person. For some, low back pain is a dull ache over a broad area while for others; the pain is sharp and localized. Sometimes, pain in the lumbar spine is associated with episodic often-debilitating muscle spasms. It can also involve pain, tingling or numbness in the legs.

Fortunately, the symptoms for most cases of low back pain are reversible. In some severe conditions, however, the nerves involved cause weakness of the legs or loss of bladder and bowel control. Any low back pain involving these symptoms requires immediate medical attention.

Proper diagnosis of lower back pain is a crucial therapeutic step. Most clinical assessments of low back pain involve a simple office visit and discussion with a physician. In some cases, particularly if pain in the lumber spine has lasted longer than six weeks, the physician may recommend some imaging exams such as X-rays or MRIs.

Treating low back pain
A number of therapy options are available to effectively treat the symptoms and underlying causes of low back pain. While non-prescription analgesic drugs may help provide short-term pain relief, they should not be used without the consultation with a specialist who can provide a complete assessment of the condition and recommend the best therapeutic options.

The specialists at the Alliance Spine and Pain Centers have the expertise to diagnose and treat even the toughest cases of lower back pain. While early treatment is the best option, it’s never too late to improve symptoms and find relief from low back pain. Conveniently situated across 15 locations across northern Georgia and the Atlanta Metro Area, the team at the Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are available to make full clinical assessments and explore a range of treatment options. Stop by to stop the pain with Alliance Spine and Pain Centers, where top-quality specialist pain interventions are the standard of care.

  • Oct 16, 2018
  • by Alliance Spine and Pain Centers
  • Pain Management
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Learning how to communicate with your doctor on where your pain is, is key to getting the proper treatment.

We all know that pain comes in many different varieties. The particular type of sensation you are experiencing can be a valuable clue for the doctor trying to diagnose you. A chronic, dull ache may indicate something very different from a sudden, sharp sting. Of course, nobody else can feel what you’re feeling, so it’s important to find the right vocabulary to describe your experience as accurately as possible. Doctors have a number of assessment tools to help patients communicate their experience. In addition to reviewing these, you can prepare for your first appointment by asking yourself the following questions.

How badly does it hurt?

You’ll almost always be asked to describe the intensity of your symptoms, often on a scale from 0 to 10. In other cases, doctors may only ask you to choose from “mild,” “moderate,” or “severe.” It’s also helpful to talk about how your discomfort affects your daily life – have you had to limit or avoid any activities because of it? What kind of impact has it had on your mental state? All of this information will help communicate the severity of your situation.

How does it feel?

You’ll also need to know how to provide a qualitative description of your experience. Here are some common terms by patients and healthcare providers:

• Burning
• Shooting
• Stabbing
• Throbbing
• Numbness/Tingling
• Cramping
• Tightness/Squeezing

Where does it hurt?

This may seem like a very simple question, but you can be a lot more specific than just pointing to a particular body part. Think about whether the sensation is localized in one spot or spread out over a large area. You can also specify whether it seems to be more on the surface or “deeper.”

When does it hurt?

Sometimes, discomfort comes and goes at particular times of day. This is important information to share with your doctor. You should also let your doctor know whether your symptoms come suddenly or gradually, and how long they typically last.

What makes it better or worse?

This is often the most important question for obtaining an accurate diagnosis. Think about how certain activities, foods, or medications influence your symptoms. What have you already tried to improve them? Did it work? To really answer this question completely, it may be helpful to keep a journal of your symptoms as well as any other activities you think may be relevant.

Getting Help

Whatever you’re feeling the doctors at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers are ready to hear what you have to say. You deserve the attention of a practitioner with the experience to get your pain under control. Contact one of the locations of the Alliance Spine and Pain Centers today to schedule your first appointment. With 15 locations around the Atlanta area, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers serves patients from Austell, GA as well as Canton, Carollton, Camp Creek, Conyers, Covington, Dallas, Dawsonville, Decatur, Douglasville, Lawrenceville, Lithonia, Piedmont and Roswell.